Tourists prefer St. Petersburg: its status of the leading destination for domestic urban tourism has been confirmed

31 August 2021

Before autumn begins, we can summarize some of the results of the summer season in the travel industry. Despite the fact that the difficult times for tourism have not yet passed and we continue to adapt to the changes caused by the coronavirus, St. Petersburg has something to be proud of. Our city has confirmed its status as the tourist center of the country.

According to the analysts from the Russian Standard Bank, beach holidays were the most popular type of vacation in the domestic tourist market this summer. The second place was taken by urban tourism.

St. Petersburg became the leader in this category. As noted by the experts of the Russian Standard Bank, the average spend of the Northern Capital’s guests was comparable to the expenses of tourists in Sochi, Russia’s leading resort. According to experts, tourists spent 1,415 rubles on one purchase in the city on the Neva this summer. In comparison, an average check in Sochi was 1,437 rubles, in Anapa – 1,171 rubles, in Gelendzhik – 1,002 rubles, in Tuapse – 809 rubles.

Thus, St. Petersburg took first place in terms of income from an average tourist this season. Kaliningrad became the second most visited “urban” destination. Visitors leave an average of 1,291 rubles per purchase there.

In addition, according to the travel planning service OneTwoTrip, St. Petersburg took second place among top ten air routes in Russia. The most popular summer air route was Moscow – Sochi. Running second are flights from Moscow to St. Petersburg, while, compared to last summer, flights to St. Petersburg became 15% more frequent, its share being 11.5%. As noted by the representatives of the OneTwoTrip service, the city on the Neva has enjoyed increased attention among tourists since spring due to the change in the Russians’ preferences in choosing vacation destinations to the ones where you can not only relax by the sea, but also devote some time to cultural leisure.

The most popular railway route in the past three months was the one from Moscow to St. Petersburg and back. At the same time, according to the OneTwoTrip service, in 2021 the train to St. Petersburg was used 15% more often than in the previous year.

It is remarkable that, even in the difficult times of the pandemic, our city confirmed its status as a leading tourist destination and increased its position in general, as well as among the aviation and railway ratings of destinations most preferred by travelers.

Guests are amazed and attracted not only by the unique and iconic sights of St. Petersburg, but also by its new cultural environment that is being created – exciting, interesting, modern city life is becoming an important factor in travel planning. Currently, the St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development, together with the urban community, is actively developing and promoting a new cultural and tourist geography of the city by inviting guests to discover new and unusual urban points of attraction. Thus, both the demand and the potential for return trips (not only in summer, but all year round) is formed.


Due to the current situation in the world, we are still facing difficulties caused by the almost complete absence of foreign guests, who provided about 50% of the whole tourist flow and more than half of the industry’s profit. There has also been a serious decline in the organized school, business and event tourism.

“Back in the summer of 2020, upon realizing that we will have to face the next waves of a pandemic, the Governor of St. Petersburg Alexander Beglov instructed us to develop a set of measures to support the urban hospitality sector. The total amount of financial aid is estimated at 4 billion rubles for 2020 and 2021. Federal Tourism Agency recognized these decisions as unprecedented. In addition to providing assistance to industry enterprises, these measures have had a positive impact on the investment attractiveness of the tourism industry. Investors from other regions are already approaching us,” said Sergei Korneev, head of the St. Petersburg Committee for Tourism Development.

Comprehensive solutions aimed at assisting the industry were developed by the Committee together with the representatives of the professional community. The actions that were taken allowed us to preserve the operating activities of the tourism industry and the hospitality infrastructure of our city: by the beginning of 2021, more than 3,000 enterprises have already taken advantage of tax incentives (1.5 billion rubles in total). At the same time, 551 St. Petersburg organizations in the tourism sector received benefits for renting city property; 255.8 million rubles were given as 84 easy loans to save more than 1,800 jobs. As a result, St. Petersburg more or less retained its best market players, including their backbone – the highly qualified human resources of the hospitality industry.

Overall, despite the fact that the figures of the record year 2019 remain unattainable for objective reasons, in the first six months of 2021 St. Petersburg was visited by almost 2.5 times more tourists than in 2020.

The main result of the past months is that due to the active work of all participants of the urban hospitality industry, the Northern Capital was able to maintain its reputation of both a classic and modern city, preserving historical values ​​while developing dynamically, offering the highest quality services and new tourist products, opening new spaces for guests and new reasons to visit St. Petersburg.

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